Posts Tagged ‘General License’

General License Class – Black Forest, CO

Sat Sep 28 and Sat Oct 5
(8 AM to 5 PM)

Black Forest Fire Station
11445 Teachout Road
Colorado Springs, CO 80908

The General License provides access to regional and worldwide communications on the HF bands, greatly expanding your ham radio fun!

• Upgrade from Technician to General Class radio privileges
• Pass your FCC General Class amateur license exam Oct 12*
• See live equipment demonstrations and activities
• Learn to operate on the HF bands, 10 Meters to 160 Meters
• Gain a deeper understanding of radio electronics and theory
• Take the next step with antennas, amplifiers, digital modes

Registration fee: $30 ($20 for under 18 years of age)

Prerequisite: Students must already have their Technician License

The required study guide is:

HamRadioSchool.com General License Course
Third Edition, effective 2019 – 2023, $24.95

* Free FCC exam session on Oct 12 at Black Forest Fire Station 9:30 am.

To register for the class, contact Bob KØNR,  [email protected]

Sponsored by the Tri-Lakes Monument Radio Association

The post General License Class – Black Forest, CO appeared first on The KØNR Radio Site.

Getting on HF: The Fiddle Factor

We’ve had a steady stream of new licensees come into our radio club driven mostly by our highly-successful Technician license class. Many of these licensees have gone on to get their General license so they can have fun on the HF bands. I’ve given advice and aid to a variety of people as they get their HF station set up and I’ve come to appreciate that for Average Joe Ham this is a big step. I’ve also noted some recurring problems that get in the way of success on the HF bands, which I’d like to explore here. Recently, I asked my twitter followers for input and got some great ideas from them, too. Thanks!

A basic wire antenna for the high frequency (HF) bands.

Here’s what I came up with as the four main barriers to success on HF.

Antenna restrictions

The first barrier that pops up are antenna restrictions which can come in the form of zoning regulations, protective covenants (homeowners associations), spouse’s opinion, potential objections from neighbors and your own sense of aesthetics.  Any of these can limit the type and size of antennas you can or will install. More to the point, this can be a showstopper for some folks. They may decide that they simply can’t have an HF antenna on their property.

Of course, HF antennas tend to be large due to the longer wavelengths used (compared to simple VHF antennas). But there are some compact antenna designs that use magnetic loops, loading coils, etc.

RFI

The second issue that often pops up is radio frequency interference (RFI) from sources such as power lines and consumer devices. These issues can be very frustrating because you have to do two things: identify the source of the noise and eliminate it. If the problem is power line noise, your local utility is supposed to be capable of finding and correcting the problem. Some are better than others. Consumer devices are a huge problem due to the common use of high-speed digital circuits. If the interfering device is in your home, that makes it a bit easier to deal with…if it’s somewhere in the neighborhood, then its harder to diagnose and fix.

My twitter followers mentioned that solar electric systems often radiate RF energy (and they are a growing trend). Here in Colorado, we are seeing more problems with cannabis grow operations that use RF-ugly industrial grow lights.  But Part 15 consumer electronics are a big and growing problem…too often they are little RFI generators.

Cost

I hesitate to add cost to the list but I do think it’s a factor. A starter HF station costs something like this (your mileage may vary): $750 for a new transceiver (think Yaesu FT-450 class), $100 for a power supply, $100 for wire antenna (homebrew) and coax => ~$1000.  Yes, you can buy used gear and get this cost down…maybe to half ($500)?

Comparing this to a Baofeng HT purchase ($30), it is a lot more money. However, it is on the same level as other significant consumer electronics purchases such as a high end smartphone or mid-range notebook PC. As someone correctly pointed out to me, the utility of a notebook PC is very clear…you will get value out of it…but success with HF is still a gamble. What if you spend $1k on an HF station and never have any success with it?

Now let’s say the lot is not that big and there are only a few supports available to hang the antenna. Now you need to fiddle with the antenna design to perhaps shorten it and compromise how it is being hung. So we have an additional fiddle factor which results in an F2 (or F squared) situation.
Now suppose we decide to use a more finicky antenna design…perhaps a magnetic loop or a multiband dipole. (A magnetic is inherently narrowband, so you have to tune it for the specific operating frequency. A multiband dipole will need to be tuned for each band of operation and they usually interact.) This adds another fiddle factor bring us to an F3 level challenge. Next we consult our homeowners association rules and find out that there are physical restrictions on how we can mount an antenna…and they might be vague and arbitrary. This gets us into F4 territory.
Now put yourself in the position of a radio ham getting on HF the first time. These issues, especially the fiddle factor, can really get in the way of successful radio operating. In my next post, I’ll look at some ways of dealing with these issues.
73 Bob K0NR

The post Getting on HF: The Fiddle Factor appeared first on The KØNR Radio Site.

Are Recent Technicians Getting on the Air?

Our radio club (Tri-Lakes Monument Radio Association) offers a 2-day Technician license class which has resulted in over 300 new Technician licenses in past years. We also offer a number of activities to help new licensees get started in ham radio. Still, we wonder how many of our newly-minted Techs have actually gotten on the air and are actively using amateur radio.

To assess that, I surveyed 258 people that went through our Technician license class from 2010 to 2017. We’ve actually had more students than that get their license but I don’t have valid email addresses for all of them. To improve the response rate, I kept the survey short at 5 questions.

The response rate was 42% which is quite good for this type of survey. I suspect there is a response bias in that active ham radio folks are probably more likely to reply to this survey. People that have lost interest are less likely to reply. That’s just my opinion; I don’t have data to support that.

 

Almost half of our Technician class students upgraded to General but only a few went on to Extra. Overall, I see this as a good result but I expected to see a few more Extra class licensees.


 

Most of the respondents have been on air recently: 60% of them have made a radio contact in the past 6 months. On the other hand, that means about 40% of not made a contact in half a year. It is disappointing to see that 13% have never made a ham radio contact.


There is quite a range on how active the respondents are with 45% making 10 or fewer contacts in 6 months.

 

About one half of the survey respondents are members of our radio club. Some of them are also members of other radio clubs in the area. Some of our students travel a long distance, up to 100 miles, to attend this class so it makes sense that they find a radio club near their home.

 

Most of the respondents reported being active on 2m/70cm FM. About 18% of them are on HF Phone. The total for all forms of HF operating (CW, digital and phone) is not shown on the chart but it is roughly 20%. While roughly half of the respondents have their General or Extra class license, only 20% are actually using the resulting HF privileges.

Conclusions

My broad conclusion is that our radio club should continue to provide opportunities for our members to develop their operating skills and expand their radio operating. I filtered the responses to our club members only to see if our club member responses are any different from the larger group. Basically, our members indicate they are somewhat more active than the rest of the respondents but the overall story does not change.

Obviously, this is a small slice of data relevant to our local situation. It may not apply to other parts of the country.

What do you think?

73, Bob K0NR

The post Are Recent Technicians Getting on the Air? appeared first on The KØNR Radio Site.

General License Class: Black Forest, CO Feb 24/Mar 3

Sat Feb 24 and Sat Mar 3 (8 AM to 5 PM) 2018
Black Forest Fire Station
11445 Teachout Road
Colorado Springs, CO 80908

 

The General License provides access to regional and worldwide communications on the HF bands, greatly expanding your ham radio fun!

• Upgrade from Technician to General Class radio privileges
• Pass your FCC General Class amateur license exam Mar 10*
• Live equipment demonstrations and activities
• Learn to operate on the HF bands, 10 Meters to 160 Meters
• Gain a deeper understanding of radio electronics and theory
• Take the next step with antennas, amplifiers, digital modes

Registration fee: $30 ($20 for under 18 years of age)
Students must have the required study guide:

HamRadioSchool.com General License Course
Second Edition, effective 2015 – 2019, $22.95

* Free FCC exam session on Mar 10 at Black Forest Fire Station 9:30 am.

To register for the class, email: Bob KØNR  [email protected]

Sponsored by the Tri-Lakes Monument Radio Association

The post General License Class: Black Forest, CO Feb 24/Mar 3 appeared first on The KØNR Radio Site.

General License Class (Black Forest, CO)

ft-991Ham Radio General License
Two-day Class

Black Forest, Colorado
Two class sessions on Sat Sept 24 and Sat Oct 1 (8 AM to 5 PM) FCC Exam session on Oct 8th
Location: Black Forest Fire Station
Intersection of Burgess Rd. & Teachout Rd.

The General License provides access to regional and worldwide communications on the HF bands via ionospheric skip, greatly expanding operational capabilities!

  • Upgrade from Technician to General Class radio privileges
  • Pass your FCC General Class amateur license exam Oct 8 *
  • Live equipment demonstrations and activities
  • Learn to operate on the HF bands, 10 Meters to 160 Meters
  • Gain a deeper understanding of radio electronics and theory
  • Take the next step with antennas, amplifiers, digital modes

Registration fee: $30
(No FCC exam fee required at Oct 8 exam session)

InGeneral Book addition, students must have the required study guide:

HamRadioSchool.com General License Course
Second Edition, effective 2015 – 2019, $22.95

Current FCC Technician License required for registration. Advanced registration is required by Sept 10th or earlier. First-come registration acceptance until class is full.

To register for the class, contact: Bob Witte KØNR

Email: [email protected]  or Phone: 719/659-3727

Sponsored by the Tri-Lakes Monument Radio Association.

The post General License Class (Black Forest, CO) appeared first on The KØNR Radio Site.

The Completely Updated Incomplete List of Ham Radio iPhone Apps

iphonesIt is about time I updated one of my more popular posts about my favorite ham radio apps on the iPhone and IPad. As usual, I will focus on free or low cost (less than $5) apps that I am actively using. Some apps have just disappeared from iTunes and new ones have emerged. While this list is completely updated, it is still incomplete, because there are so many apps to choose from.

 

From the Simple Utility Category:

Ham I Am (Author: Storke Brothers, Cost: Free) A handy app that covers some basic amateur radio reference material (Phonetic alphabet, Q Signals, Ham Jargon, Morse Code, RST System, etc.) Although I find the name to be silly, I like the app!
Maidenhead Converter (Author: Donald Hays, Cost: Free) Handy app that displays your grid locator, uses maps and does lat/lon to grid locator conversions.
HamClock (Author: Ben Sinclair, Cost: $0.99) A simple app that displays UTC time and local time. This one reads out to the second.

 

There are quite a few good apps for looking up amateur radio callsigns:

CallBook (Author: Dog Park Software, Cost: $1.99) Simple ham radio callbook lookup with map display.

Call Sign Lookup (Author: Technivations, Cost: $0.99) Another simple ham radio callsign lookup with map display.

 

There are a few repeater directory apps out there and my favorite is:

RepeaterBook (Author: ZBM2 Software, Cost: Free) This app is tied to the RepeaterBook.com web site, works well and is usually up to date.

 

For a mobile logbook (and other tools):

HamLog (Author: Pignology, Cost: $0.99) This app is much more than a logbook because it has a bunch of handy tools including UTC Clock, Callsign Lookup, Prefix list, Band Plans, Grid Calculator, Solar Data, SOTA Watch, Q Signals and much more.

 

To track propagation reports, both HF and VHF:

WaveGuide (Author: Rockwell Schrock, Cost: $2.99) This is an excellent tool for determining HF and VHF propagation conditions at the touch of a finger.

 

If you are an EchoLink user, then you’ll want this app:

EchoLink (Author: Synergenics, Cost: Free) The EchoLink app for the iPhone.

 

There are quite a few APRS apps out there. I tend to use this one because my needs are pretty simple….just track me, baby!

Ham Tracker (Author: Kram, Cost: $2.99) APRS app, works well, uses external maps such as Google and aprs.fi. “Share” feature allows you to send an SMS or email with your location information.

 

Satellite tracking is another useful app for a smartphone:

Space Station Lite (Author: Craig Vosburgh, Cost: Free) A free satellite tracking app for just the International Space Station. It has annoying ads but its free.

ProSat Satellite Tracker (Author: Craig Vosburgh, Cost: $9.99) This app is by the same author as ISS Lite, but is the full-featured “pro” version. Although it is a pricey compared to other apps, I recommend it.

 

For Summits On The Air (SOTA) activity, there are a few apps:

Pocket SOTA (Author: Pignology, Cost: $0.99) A good app for finding SOTA summits, checking spots and accessing other information.

SOTA Goat (Author: Rockwell Schrock, Cost: $4.99) This is a great app for SOTA activity. It works better when offline than Pocket SOTA (which often happens when you are activating a summit).

 

For ham radio license training, I like the HamRadioSchool.com apps. (OK, I am biased here as I contribute to that web site.)

HamRadioSchool Technician (Author: Peak Programming, Cost: $2.99) There are a lot of Technician practice exams out there but this is the best one, especially if you use the HamRadioSchool.com license book.

HamRadioSchool General (Author: Peak Programming, Cost: $2.99) This is the General class practice exam, especially good for use with the HamRadioSchool.com book.

 

Morse Code is always a fun area for software apps:

Morse-It (Author: Francis Bonnin, Cost: $0.99) This app decodes and sends Morse audio. There are fancier apps out there but this one does a lot for $1.

 

Well, that’s my list. Any other suggestions?

– Bob K0NR

The post The Completely Updated Incomplete List of Ham Radio iPhone Apps appeared first on The KØNR Radio Site.

General License Book From HamRadioSchool.com

HRS General BookHamRadioSchool.com is off to a great start with a learning system that includes a web site, iPhone app and a great Technician License Course book. The Technician book, written by my fellow instructor Stu Turner W0STU, has turned out to be very popular. Stu did a great job of balancing “teaching the right material” with “focusing on the exam questions.” We’ve used the book in our two-day Tech license class with great success.

Many people have been asking Stu when he’s going to write a book for the FCC General Class License. So, by popular demand, here it is: HamRadioSchool.com General License Course. Using the same creative style that worked well with the Technician book, Stu has delivered an easy-t0-grok book for getting your General Class License.

I was happy to provide technical assistance to Stu for this book and earned the esteemed title of Technical Editor.  It even says so on the front cover! (It says Technical Editor because I can’t be held responsible for proper grammar or spelling.)

Just like the Tech book, the General book has a companion iPhone app available on iTunes.

73, Bob K0NR


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